So, I neglected to email Jason yesterday in my 4 hours at work (rough, I know) and I"m not in today, so I figured that since he asked such great questions in the comment, I'd just answer here...
Being on the ship was definitely fun - Joe and I kept remarking that we were certainly on the fun ship - there were gambling tournaments, quiz games in the theater, games in the pool areas, shows at night (comedy, variety) at various times - some were at midnight and were "adult content" for the comedians, karoke every night, dance clubs.... Carnival seemed to cater to a younger crowd and the group of people on board was fairly young - we had the late dining and most of the couples in there were around our age.
When we traveled from port to port, we were typically at sea for about 12 hours and the time went pretty fast. We only had 2 full sea days )1 at the beginning and 1 at the end) and truthfully, that was enough for me.
The excursions - all of the caribbean ports typically have snorkeling and scuba excursions. We met one group in line at check in that was scuba diving in every port. For our dune buggy - it was a guided tour but they were definitely maxing it out - plus joe got a little bit of "off road" time. There was a definite benefit to booking through an independent operator vice the ship - our groups were much smaller (dune buggies were the most drastic - we had 4 people vice about 10 buggies with 4 people in each on the ship's excursion), the prices were typically better for the money, and, well, I'm all about not giving some huge corporation even more of my money (except if it's Amazon - because I really can't live without books).
I'm really on the fence about cruising. I want that experience of being somewhere and getting to know the culture. I think I would love something like easycruise - it doesn't have that big american cruising attitude behind it - they act like it's just a hotel and transportation. And they have some awesome cruises. Food is extra, but the port visits are structured so that you'd actually have time to go find a cool place for dinner. The other thing I'm interested in is using the Alaskan ferry system to see alaska. I've read that you can sleep on the deck and that they have guides on there to talk about a lot of the stuff you see. I mentioned that to a couple at our table (the guy had been on 7 cruises and the girl on 3) and her reaction was "where would I do my hair" - I just had to laugh.
Whew! I guess that's about it. Time to play with the doggie - now that it's finally light out.